Saturday, January 3, 2015

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes

On New Year’s Eve we celebrated the one year anniversary of being in our new house, and, as our typical fashion, we got C.R.A.Z.Y.  And by crazy, I mean we hung out in our jammies and let Little K stay up late enough to watch Ryan Seacrest count while the ball dropped.  All of this while I sucked on cough drops next to my eucalyptus humidifier.  Like I said, crazy.

We had planned to ring in the New Year with our dear friends, T and Ash; but, as 2014 has taught me over and over, things don’t always go as planned.  They were forced to hang out with their not-so-good friends Croup and Influenza instead of us.  While we were all disappointed to postpone their visit, it turned out to be a nice, relaxing evening.  And I was happy to finally complete a few projects around the house before the year ended (I replaced the curtain rods on every single one of our windows and finally put up my “black and white wall” in our bedroom).

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
The numbers are significant to our birthdays and anniversary.

We very rarely make resolutions, but as we were putting a very sleepy Little K to bed, we talked about our hopes for 2015.  Mr. B and I both said we hope to eat healthier and exercise more; I want to quit drinking soda, go to church more and visit the zoos in our area; Mr. B hopes to go on a family vacation; and I want to look at my phone less and Little K’s face more.  Little K’s only hope for the New Year is to not have his birthday in the winter anymore – sorry buddy.

While we watched performers I no longer am current enough to recognize, Mr. B dozed off and I reflected on the past year and what it has taught me.  It’s been a rough one up until the very end (my car slid on the ice and hit a giant SUV two days before the year’s finish), but it’s also been a really important one.

I was given the gift of kindness and support over and over and over in 2014.  There were days where I was barely functioning, and someone would send me a message/email/text of support; once someone showed up on my doorstep with a basket of flowers, another time a card that still brings tears to my eyes when I read it and a coffee cup stamped with words of encouragement.  Coffee dates and phone conversations were the salve that kept my soul alive in 2014 (and naps – so many naps).

My heart felt particularly tender around my birthday and Christmas; I think because I had expectations of having had another baby by the end of the year.  Although we have long abandoned hope and effort of extending the human part of our family, I still felt very fragile and exhausted.  And, more than ever before, I was missing my dear sweet Grandma.  She has been gone 5 years, as she passed while I was pregnant with Little K.  But her absence seemed so much greater during this past holiday season.

I was given some very sweet gifts for my birthday and Christmas from friends and family, but the simplest and most thoughtful ones made the biggest impact on my aching heart.

My parents gave me the roll pan that had belonged to Grandma; a gift that made me cry big tears.  I finally was able to successfully make her famous rolls for Thanksgiving (doing all of the prep-work the day before Thanksgiving, which would’ve been her birthday, and using her roll pan), so the pan meant more this year than it ever would have.

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)

With the help of my Aunt Con and my mom (the photo-editing genius), I was able to give my sister, Ber, (and myself) a framed copy of Grandma’s roll recipe that is in her handwriting.  It was Ber’s turn to cry on this one.

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
Next to my new Kitchen Aid mixer from Mr. B!

But the gift that made the biggest impact was a very sweet, very small, much unexpected gift from my friend Sar.  A few of my dearest local friends met me for coffee the morning of my birthday, and Sar brought with her a beautiful ring from Connected (a pretty amazing fair-trade store).  On it, were the words “choose joy.”  I told her, “I love it!  Thank you so much!  This will be my motto for 2015!”  She said she knew I’d love it, since she and I were both “word people”.

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I just love these girls.

Later that day, I received a text message from her that was maybe even more touching than her gift.  She said, “I hope you have had a wonderful day!!  And I wanted to explain the ring a bit…  …I know it’s been a really hard year and it’s really hard to find joy in all the sadness or frustration or madness, but when I saw the ring I thought you have been choosing the joy.  And I’m so proud of you for that.  So it’s a reminder to keep doing that!!  Keep choosing joy when it doesn’t look like there is anything to be joyful about!  …  Love you, friend!!”

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)

I have been blessed with amazing friends (who give me more credit than I deserve).

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I do not own the rights to this image.

A few years ago, someone I knew was going through a particularly difficult time.  I attempted to encourage her by saying, “don’t let this steal your joy”.  Although she received the words as being unkind, I want to keep those words for myself in the front of my mind.  If I am having a rough day or if I feel the black waters of depression seeping in, I want to say to myself, “Don’t let this steal your joy.”  And if I forget, I will have the ring from Sar as a daily reminder (I put it on a chain next to my favorite cross).

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I do not own the rights to this image.

One of my favorite blogs is Momastery (I love her Facebook page too) – her story is just amazing.  Ironically, on a day I absolutely needed it (because people can be really cruel, name-calling jerks), she posted this response to a question from a reader:

“’Dear G,
I want to write, but I’m afraid of the criticism.  I’m sensitive like you and I’m afraid that if I put myself out there and get slammed it will be so painful.  Love, S’

Dear S,
It will!  It will be so painful.  Getting slammed will be the worst.  I cry about it all the time.  They told me it’d get easier, but it doesn’t.  If you’re sensitive enough to be a good writer – you’re probably too sensitive to be apathetic about the response.  When they don’t like it – it’ll hurt.  But at some point you just say; So What?  I can handle a little ego crushing.  Getting your ego crushed is like stubbing your toe – you think you’re gonna die and you have to curse a lot, but the all-encompassing sharpness of it passes pretty quickly so you can get on with things.
Getting criticized for doing your thing is painful – but it’s not as painful as NOT doing your thing.  And you know – people do painful things all the time that make them better.  I think pain might be underrated completely.  For me – it usually precedes something really freaking beautiful.
Anyway.  Don’t forget – you don’t have to be so tough that it doesn’t hurt, you just have to be tough enough not to quit.
I’m JUST tough enough.  Bet you are, too.  Write On, Sister.

I think she is right, pain is underrated and it usually precedes something really beautiful.  Sometimes pain teaches us more about joy than joy itself can.  So while I will to choose joy this year, there will be some pain – and that’s okay.  Because hiding hurts worse than not doing my thing.  And I like doing my thing, my way.  I’m weird and maybe a little “tacky” – but I like me that way.

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I do not own the rights to this image.

Life's hard.  Choose joy anyway.

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I am not a Joel Osteen fan, but I really like this. 

I like being the weird friend who says awkward things at terrible times.  I like being the Left-Leaning-Independent in a community of staunch Right-Wingers.  I like being someone who can give good, wacky, honest advice.  I like having a heart that is true and good and kind – albeit a little weird.

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I do not own the rights to this image.

And finally, in the words of Neil Gaiman, this is my last wish for myself, and for all of you for 2015:

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.
I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.
And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return.”
And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.
I hope that in the year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.  Make New Mistakes.  Make glorious, amazing mistakes.  Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before.
Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work, or family, or life.  Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Choose Joy - Stay Weird - Make Mistakes (In Good Company)
I do not own the rights to this image.

Choose Joy.  Choose Happy.  Stay Weird.  Make Mistakes.  Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi kelsey, your post is one that I will carry with me through the rough spots....both now and those in the future. Thank you. Brenda


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